Panetta Calls Gen. John Allen Outstanding, Selfless, Brilliant

The following is a statement released by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on General John Allen’s Decision to Retire:

Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta. Photo courtesy of the Dept. of Defense website.

Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta. Photo courtesy of the Dept. of Defense website.

“Gen. John Allen has proven himself to be one of the United States military’s most outstanding battlefield leaders, a brilliant strategist, and an exemplary Marine, and I am deeply grateful for his many years of dedicated service to our country.

“I will be forever thankful that the international effort in Afghanistan was in Gen. Allen’s capable hands during much of my tenure as secretary of defense.  His leadership over the last 19 months will long be remembered as pivotal to this campaign.  The strategy he developed and implemented has put us on the right path towards completing this mission, with Afghan forces now on track to step into the lead for security nationwide this spring and to assume full security responsibility by the end of next year.

“Gen. Allen’s selfless dedication to our troops and to their mission was a source of inspiration to those who served with him, as well as to those of us here at home.  He has earned the lasting thanks of this nation for carrying the heavy burden of leadership with utmost professionalism and courage.  I wish him and his entire family all the best in the next chapter of their lives.”

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Emailer Who Exposed Petraeus Affair Calls for Privacy Laws

Credit Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times. Gen. David Petraeus, left, Scott and Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus watch the 2010 Gasparilla parade from the Kelleys’ front lawn.

Credit Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times. Gen. David Petraeus, left, Scott and Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus watch the 2010 Gasparilla parade from the Kelleys’ front lawn.

The Tampa socialite, who exposed the affair of CIA Director David Petraeus forcing him to resign, is calling upon Congress to restrict access to private email accounts.

Jill Kelley and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post calling for Congress to safeguard privacy as they consider Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The Kelley’s wrote in their op-ed:

Our family committed no crime and sought no publicity. We simply appealed for help after receiving anonymous e-mails with threats of blackmail and extortion … Unfortunately, reaching out to an FBI agent whose acquaintance we had made resulted in slanderous allegations.

Jill Kelley initially asked the government for help when she received threatening anonymous emails. The FBI investigated. It found the anonymous emails came from Petraeus’ official biographer, Paula Broadwell.

But, the FBI did not stop there. They examined Kelley’s correspondence with Marine Gen. John Allen, currently the top commander in Afghanistan. The emails were reported to number in the thousands, but those numbers have since been refuted.

No criminal wrongdoing was found, but the FBI handed over its investigation of Allen to the Department of Defense Inspector General.

On Tuesday, the IG cleared Gen. Allen of any inappropriate conduct or emails. However, his promotion to commander of NATO forces and the European Command was put on hold and there’s no word if his nomination hearings will be rescheduled.

Marine Gen. John Allen Cleared in Email Investigation

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

The top commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, has been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with sending emails to  Tampa socialite Jill Kelley.

Allen was investigated by the Department of Defense Inspector General for sending a reportedly large number of emails to Kelley who was a “friend of MacDill Air Force Base where Allen had served with Central Command.

The emails came to light after Kelley complained to the FBI about threatening emails from the official biographer of former CIA director David Petraeus.

Petraeus admitted to an affair with his biographer and resigned his post.

Allen appeared to be a collateral casualty as his emails to the Tampa socialite were scrutinized for months and his promotion to command NATO forces and the European Command was put on hold.

But in a news release late Tuesday night, Defense Press Secretary George Little wrote that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “was pleased to learn that allegations of professional misconduct were not substantiated by the investigation.”

The release continued, “The secretary has complete confidence in the continued leadership of Gen. Allen, who is serving with distinction in Afghanistan.”

There’s no word yet if the Marine Corps general’s nomination hearing which was postpone will be rescheduled.

The Tampa Socialite Who Stole CENTCOM’s Christmas

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

The fallout continues from former CIA director David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer. A report, by the Associated Press in the Tampa Tribune, cites a source who suggests the annual U.S. Central Command holiday party has been cancelled due to the high visibility of the broadening scandal.

Jill Kelley is the Tampa socialite who first alerted the FBI about threatening emails she received that eventually revealed Petraeus’ affair. That led to an examination of Kelley’s emails with the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen. The FBI referred those “reportedly” thousands of emails between Kelley and Allen to the Department of Defense Inspector General which is investigating.

But, Kelley was known by the top brass beyond Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman reports she received the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s second-highest award for civilians:

Kelley was recognized for “outstanding public service to the United States Central Command, the MacDill Air Force Base community and the Department of Defense from October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2010,” according to the award citation. “Mrs. Kelley distinguished herself by exceptional service while supporting the mission of the United Central Command, building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community, supporting community outreach, and advancing various military endeavors.”

The citation also states that Kelley’s “willingness to host engagements with Senior National Representatives from more than 60 countries was indicative of her support for both the Coalition’s effort and the mission of United States Central Command.”

Gen. Allen’s nomination to be Commander of United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe is on hold pending the Inspector General’s investigation.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has asked the Senate to “act promptly” on the nomination of General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, to succeed General Allen at ISAF.

How Jill Kelley Got Close to Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Allen

The David Petraeus sex scandal not only cost the CIA director his job, it has generated a lot of interest in the general’s time as commander at U.S. Central Command in Tampa. And it spawned an investigation of a second general, John Allen, over email exchanges with a Tampa woman.

Many outside the Tampa community are questioning how two four-star generals like Petraeus and Allen could have become friends with a socialite like Jill Kelley.

Col. Lenny Richoux, as commander of Tampa’s MacDill AFB from July 2010-July 2012, created the Friends of MacDill program. He’s now serving in Belgium at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

A broader look at Tampa’s military and civilian communities gives some insight.

Among the many titles Jill Kelley has claimed – from honorary counsel to honorary ambassador – is the designation as a Friend of MacDill.

The “Friends of MacDill” program was started in 2010 by former MacDill Air Force Base commander Col. Lenny Richoux who talked with WUSF in May.

“My number one job when I wake up in the morning is base security,” Richoux said. “Is the base secure? I can absolutely tell you that it is, but at the same time I want to open it up.”

During his two-year tenure as base commander, Richoux reached out to hundreds of civic leaders, elected officials and other military advocates. He invited them to visit the base and volunteer.

His philosophy was that the base belonged to the taxpayers. So, he started the MacDill Friends program.

“Basically, I am vouching for you to come on my base. I meet you. I shake your hand. I get to know you. I tell you about the base. You express interest,” Richoux said. “And then we vet you through a security process. Then we grant you access to the base for a limited period of time.”

Jill Kelley got one of those “Friends” passes that allowed her access to the base during daylight hours. Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio received a “Friends of MacDill” pass too, but hasn’t used it.

“It’s a nice good will thing to do to say hey you’re welcome on the base,” Iorio said. “The one thing that I regret from all this brouhaha that has cropped up over this one couple that has opened up their home to have parties for the military and that’s a very generous thing to do. But it does not typify nor does it represent the relationship of our community to MacDill Air Force Base.”

Credit Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times. Gen. David Petraeus, left, Scott and Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus watch the 2010 Gasparilla parade from the Kelleys’ front lawn.

Iorio attended parties at the Kelley’s house as mayor. She said what’s not getting out is how the community supports MacDill and military families in so many other ways like volunteering at the James A. Haley VA Hospital and the Bayshore Patriots waving flags every Friday on Bayshore since the 9-11 attacks.

One volunteer working with families from CENTCOM’s International Coalition is Tampa resident Dena Leavengood. She unofficially started helping families find schools and get drivers licenses soon after 9-11 when officers from 69 countries and their families were brought into MacDill.

“Since then, I’ve been passed down from family to family particularly among the Asian coalition representatives and recently in the last year I’ve also gotten more involved with our American military stationed at MacDill,” Leavengood said.

Whether international or American an estimated 80 percent of MacDill’s military families live off base – so they’re next door neighbors and their kids go to the same schools.

Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio

“We’ve become friends with them because they’re neighbors and that is also true for some of the stationed troops here as well as the officers,” Leavengood said. “The fact that anybody in our community might have relationships with any number of people at MacDill and particularly since we have so many retirees here or people who are former military, we’re all neighbors. We all live together.”

So seeing photographs of Jill Kelley with David and Holly Petraeus during a Gasparilla Parade is not a novelty to many in Tampa. The military and civilian communities are intertwined.

Former Mayor Iorio has talked with several reporters from national news organizations hoping they’ll give a more “well rounded” view of MacDill and Tampa.

“I think they kind of shorthand it all, social functions and MacDill, parties and MacDill and it just goes way beyond that,” Iorio said. “So many people have done a lot of volunteer work for MacDill and for our service men and women and that’s appreciated to me that’s really the nuts and bolts of how we operate as community.”

Iorio said Tampa and MacDill’s reputations will withstand the scandal and she expects the relationship between the city and its Air Force base to remain strong.

Afghan Killings Investigation to Look at Leadership Climate

Gen. John Allen

As military officials investigate the killing of 17 Afghan villagers, they are closely examining the command climate and other potential contributing factors, not just the actions of the Army staff sergeant who has been charged with the crime, according to a report in Stars and Stripes.

“Repeated tours in Afghanistan, and prior to that, in Iraq, don’t inherently reduce the effectiveness of the force or reduce the effectiveness of small-unit leadership,” Marine Gen. John Allen said. “I’m confident the institution is solid.”

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is charged with 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and six counts of assault on Afghan civilians. Allen said investigators in the Bales case will look at factors that may have contributed to the massacre.

“We’re investigating this very thoroughly,” he told Stars and Stripes.

Allen also addressed the recent increased violence against U.S. and coalition troops, including an incident Monday in which an Afghan soldier killed two British troops in the southern Helmand province. He said the attacks are primarily carried out by rebellious Afghan security forces, not disguised Taliban.

So far this year, 15 foreign troops have been killed by Afghan partners, nearly one-fourth of total combat deaths.

You can read the full Stars and Stripes article HERE.

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